Pitchvision Academy


This week the newsletter looks at some great ways to improve your cricket. There's managing energy in the field, improving technique by spotting how you play in games and a top batting drill from Mark Garaway.

Have a great weekend,

David Hinchliffe

Do You Make This Mistake in the Field?

Taking wickets is about more than just good bowling and fielding.


The atmosphere and energy on the field helps create a setting where you give your team a better chance of playing well. It's a big mistake to not manage your team's energy.

If you are not careful, you start too high, clapping and cheering, then dip too low, resigned to your fate as the batsmen get on top. Resigned silence is not a good look.

Here's what to do to avoid this fate

Match up honestly

On-field energy is largely dictated by the game situation. Things match up.

If the opposition are 50-5 chasing 280 you are going to be ebullient. If they need 10 to win from five overs with eight wicket in hand you are not going to be in the same atmosphere.

These moments are not so important as they look after themselves.

What is more interesting is when things are tighter. How you choose to react makes a difference.

If your energy in a close game is similar to when you are on top of a game, you are showing the batsmen you have confidence in your ability (or no confidence in theirs).

We all know how fragile batting confidence can be, and playing on this with full focus makes a difference.

But it needs to be honest.

Shouting and sledging is hard to keep up over a whole game. It tends to be obvious when a team are "faking it".

What is more honest, and powerful, is knowing what keeps you motivated and focused and doing what it takes to stay there. For some, this is silence and gritted teeth. For others it's innane babble. Find out where everyone's sweet spot is and keep them there by working together.

You might even want some triggers that lock people back in to their game if you see them drifting. For example, the side I coach has a volatile character who gets motivated by shouting at people. We accept his often foolish ranting as a tool he uses.

That said, the same guy can spill from self-motivation to demotivation of his own team (and riling up opposition batsmen in the wrong way). So, we make sure to understand and manage moments like this. He is an extreme example, but everyone in the team will have their motivations. Find them and use them while avoiding slipping into over-negative mindsets.

In this way the team atmosphere is very much a collection of individual honest choice made. If everyone makes the right choice for them, every feels the right energy in the team.

Video analysis of games can help with this, as you can go back and see how people were acting at different phases, working out how to make an honest, positive change when the energy feels wrong.

Act totally different

The alternative to the above plan is to defy convention.

You know we love defying convention at PitchVision!

Imagine how much of a knock your opponents confidence would take if you got out their star batsman and hardly reacted at all. All in a day's work. Next.

Imagine how angry and distracted a batsman might get if you start fooling around between balls in a tight match.

Moments like that can happen spontaneously in a team with a good spirit, but they tend to happen when you are on top, and not in tighter moments. But you can plan them too.

Here's an example: Before the game, identify their star batsman. Decide what unusual tactic you will take, such as total silence for the first over they face (especially good for batters who like a battle). Decide also that when you get them out, you will not celebrate. You will just gather together with not much of a word.

It's all mind games that might work or might be ignored. But cricket is mostly in the head, so something unusual always has a chance if you try it.


  • Team atmosphere has an effect on results
  • The energy in a side is made up of individual honest choices
  • The best teams have players who know their mental triggers and can manage them
  • You can play mind games, but they don't always work!

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Batting Drill: Strike/Defend/Evade

My nickname in India is “Gadget Garaway!”. I’m called that because I always have the heaps of coaching equipment and technology in my rather large kit bag.


One of my favourite kit suppliers is Crazy Catch. I have four different rebound nets and the players at Millfield have become brilliant at working with the equipment to devise their own hitting and fielding drills.

Crazy Catch then asked me to work with Fantastic England Cricketer, Tammy Beaumont to bring the “Think outside the Box” Drills Programme to life.

Tammy and I spent the day together filming recently at Millfield and here is he first of the rebound batting drills from the day.


A quality drill that allows the coach to be connected to the drill as both a ball deliverer and also as a technical coaching eye. The drill has a number of progressions and brings in the concept of decision making using different coloured balls. More about that later.

The set up:

The “Wildchild” Crazy Catch has an “sane” side which provides a consistent rebound back towards the batter.

The coach stands behind and slightly to the offside of the batter. The ball is delivered with the appropriate speed for the batter.

I encourage batters to put all of their protective kit on for this drill so they can adjust to the weight and feel of gloves, helmet and bat whilst executing the different batting options.

I have at least two sets of three different coloured balls. These colours will be used in the decision making progressions once a player is comfortable with the drill.

1. Evade or defend every ball

I know that I say “you should have an attacking intent first and then defend” and in most cases this is spot on. However, there are some situations in cricket where evade and defend are more appropriate.

An example came in the recent first Test between England and South Africa. Ben Stokes was batting against a hooking trap set by Rabada. Deep backward square leg, deep fine leg and a square leg in front of square. All catchers were ready and the trap was set. Ben is a really attacking batter, was well set and chose to back himself to clear the ropes. However, an evade or defend mindset may have been a more appropriate option as he and Root were taking the game away from South Africa at this point.

Is it worth practicing the option, the discipline of getting out of the way of a short ball as well as taking it on?

A wise man once said to me that “the most effective batters are those with the largest number of practiced options to each specific delivery”. The wise man was Hampshire CCC and South Africa Legend Barry Richards, and he was brilliant!

2. Take everything on!

In round two, the batter looks to take on every ball. Tammy was so skilful at this and actually played ramp shots, upper cuts over point, hooks and pulls. Her decision making was based on height and line. At this point, we could all see why Tammy is one of the world’s best batters. It was great to watch.

There are more and more situations in Modern day cricket where batters are under pressure to score of each and every ball. The influence of T20 has forced run rates up across all of the formats and now there is no such thing as an impossible run chase. Practicing hitting boundaries off every short ball is a skill that batters need to have in their locker.

This “Taking everything on!” Progression simulates that beautifully.

3. Strike/Evade/Defend

We used different colours for different options.

  • Red - Strike
  • Green - Evade
  • Yellow - Defend

This bought sharp decision making into the drill.

Tammy was looking forward so that she could pick the ball rebounding back off of the “Wildchild” which was using her “central vision” but she was also using her peripheral vision to get an early read on the colour of the incoming ball as it passes her on the way to the rebound net.

Top level batters use a combination of central and peripheral vision to establish early cues and to identify detail when facing bowlers in matches so this drill is a fantastic one for optimising our visual acuity as well as our ability to make quick decisions.

Great for training shots execution, decision making, reactions and it’s great fun for both coach and player.

Give it a go!

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Cricket Show S8 Episode 26: Off Stump Guard

Mark Garaway, Sam Lavery and David Hinchliffe coach cricket and chat cricket. This show covers bowling faster and taking guard. As always there is some Garas Gold and Lavers Lore!


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Listen for the details.

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If You're Checking Cricket Technique, Do It in Matches

We all love to make technical improvements, but you're not finding your flaws unless you see them in matches.

Improve Your Cricket Game with Gamification

Everyone blames video games for rotting your brain and turning you into a couch potato. But the fact is, the power of game design can be harnessed to improve cricket in the real world.

Yes, you really can turn a game into a game.


About PitchVision Academy

Welcome to this week's guide to playing and coaching better cricket.

I'm David Hinchliffe and I'm Director of the PitchVision Academy team. With this newsletter you are benefitting directly from over 25 Academy coaches. Our skills include international runs and wickets, first-class coaching, cutting-edge research and real-life playing experience.


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Issue: 471
Date: 2017-07-14